In 2008 There was two geek properties that had a match lit under them. On of these properties was The Dark Knight. Everything about this movie was on point. The Marketing was great, it had a great director, but what really set it off was it’s iconic villain. The Joker, who has steadily changed the face of villains for time to come. He was smart, funny cool, and had a real distinct look about him. Most of all he was terrifying. Everything about this performance was on point. The voice, the clothes, the posturing, even Heath Ledger’s unfortunate passing bled into the mystique of the character.
The other geek property which set fire to the industry if not more so. Ironman was a slightly smaller hit, I remember when it came out everybody referred to it as ” better then Spiderman” Ever since TDK came out there was a blatant turn on spiderman by the general public , but before that it was the pinnacle of superhero movies. Ironman ushered in a wave of spinoffs prequels, and worked in the concept of a shared universe among movies which had only been hinted at before.
Ironman ultimately got overshadowed by TDK, but not completely gobbled up like The Incredible Hulk. In retrospect I prefer Ironman over The Dark Knight, and my love for Robert Downey Jr. blossomed. Later that summer Tropic Thunder came out. A movie directed by Ben Stiller, which I thought I would hate, but actually liked it okay. Everytime I see it I find new things to love about it and it gets better every time, but one thing that stood out was Kirk Lazarus as an Irish Award season darling, who was playing a black soldier in a Vietnam war movie. It sounds dumb, and it was, but in the best way possible.
Now I’m going to be hypothetic as I would never take an Oscar from the Great Ledger, but let’s say Heath hadn’t tragically passed, who he had deserved an Oscar? Any other year I’d say yes, but here I gotta say no.
Ironically everything you can say good about Heath’s performance you can say about Downey’s. Heath Stole every scene he was in, he had several ticks, he made the movie. Same can be said as Robert. Only one was funny and one was terrifying. There’s even a level of make up that adds to the parallel performances, and makes them more interesting aesthetically. Nominations were announced and Robert got himself nominated for an Oscar for best supporting.
To me the best thing about Robert’s performance is the layers of character and irony. ” I’m a dude playing a dude disquised as another dude”. It’s a real statement on actor’s and the ways actors get Oscars. In some ways it’s an Oscar bait performance mocking oscar bait performances. You have the total unrecognizable transformation, the make up, and the double accent. Same can be said as Heath’s performance. Except one is the definitive supervillian and one is black face. You can’t sum up RDJ’s performance in one sentence and do it justice. It’s a parody of Russell Crowe and Daniel Day Lewis, it’s also a statement on how actors transform themselves whilst having an actor transform himself, it’s also a statement on how far actors are willing to take risky career choices for an Oscar, whilst once again having an actor take a risky career movie, it’s also a parody of Robert Downey Jr himself, it’s also a metaphor for not knowing who you really are. The fact that the Academy actually nominated this performance is hilarious in itself.
The Joker is just crazy, which can be interesting and is, but Kirk Lazarus is also crazy, and we really delve into his character’s psyche. We get a very subtle understanding of why he does what he does, and we understand this. The Joker doesn’t really get any real explanation, and why that makes for him being more captivating it doesn’t add for a more fleshed out character, which to me lends itself to a better performance.